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Top 20 employment law facts you need to know

Employees’ rights and employer responsibilities under employment law cover a huge range of topics – from employment contracts to working time, and statutory pay to dismissal. Compliance with employment law can help your organization recruit and retain happy productive employees and can help you avoid costly disputes and employment tribunal claims.

Take advantage of these 20 key employment law rules to get your career off to a great start.

  1. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) requires you to register as an employer before your first payday when you hire your first employee. Running payroll and providing employees with payslips detailing earnings before and after-tax and National Insurance deductions are essential. Payroll information must be reported to HMRC electronically every time a salary is paid and any tax and NI owed must be paid.
  2. Before employees begin working, you need to ensure they are legally entitled to work in the UK and you should keep copies of the relevant documentation.
  3. A written statement of employment law terms is required for employees and ‘workers’.
  4. The terms of an employment contract can only be changed if you have reserved the right to do so, or if you have the employee’s consent or agreement. The parties must agree on any changes within one month of their implementation and confirm them in writing within one month after the change takes effect.
  5. Employment contracts are created when a potential employee accepts an unconditional offer of employment, which can happen before the start of the employment law contract.
  6. An offer of employment law can be conditional on the successful completion of a probationary period. It typically takes between three and six months; the period must be long enough for you to judge whether the employee has the skills to perform the job.
  7. It is almost universally accepted that all workers are entitled to a minimum wage, even casual, part-time, or agency workers. Employees in the 23 and over age bracket are entitled to the National Living Wage, which is £9.50 per hour. The National Minimum Wage is divided into four separate rates: £9.18 per hour for workers aged 21 and 22; £6.83 for those aged 18 to 21; £4.81 for those aged 16 to 17 and for apprentices who are younger than 19 but still in their first year of training. Afterward, apprentices should be paid the rate applicable to their age.
  8. Full-time employees are entitled to 5.6 weeks of paid holiday each year (at least 28 days a year). The same holiday entitlement applies to part-time workers. Vacation time is accrued from the first day of employment law and continues to accrue even during periods of absence, such as maternity or sick leave.
  9. In the UK, sick pay (SSP) is statutory £99.35 a week, but most employers pay more than this amount. It is possible to refuse to pay SSP if your employee fails to comply with your notification requirements or if you reasonably believe their illness is not genuine.
  10. ‘Auto-enrolling’ all eligible employees into a workplace pension and making contributions is a legal requirement. In the absence of express directives to the contrary, you are required to provide your employees with access to a contributory pension plan and to contribute to their pensions.
  11. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all employees, including those who work from home. Standard health and safety legislation applies.
  12. For pregnant employees, paid time off is available for antenatal care, which can include parenting and relaxation classes. You can ask for proof of appointments, such as a doctor’s letter or NHS appointment card.
  13. If they meet the eligibility criteria, new or adoptive parents may be entitled to statutory maternity leave or statutory adoption leave. The period of ordinary leave is 26 weeks, and there is also 26 weeks of additional leave available to employees who qualify. If a partner of an employee gives birth to a child or adopts one, he or she is entitled to one or two weeks of paid leave.
  14. Pay for maternity leave (SMP) and adoption leave (SAP) is fixed at 90% of the employee’s average weekly earnings (AWE) for the first six weeks after giving birth. The employee is entitled to receive £156.66 a week for the remaining 33 weeks or 90% of her average gross wages, whichever is lower. In the UK, statutory paternity pay (SPP) is £156.66 a week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower. Leave must be taken within 56 days of the birth or adoption of the child.
  15. Employees who are eligible for shared parental leave and pay can end their maternity or adoption leave and pay early and share the remaining leave and pay with their partner (if the partner is also eligible). Employees can decide how much of the leave they each wish to take.
  16. The law guarantees employed parents two weeks’ statutory parental bereavement leave if they lose a child under 18 or suffer a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy.  If AWE is lower than £156.66, then parents will be eligible to receive that amount.
  17. Misconduct that is so bad it destroys the employer-employee relationship and should result in immediate dismissal is gross misconduct. In your contract of employment law or handbook, you must specify what constitutes gross misconduct. You must also follow fair and reasonable procedures for dismissal.
  18. No matter the size of the company, the rules, and procedures for disciplinary action must be written down. As part of Acas, there is a Code of Practice that sets out the basic requirements of fairness and, in most cases, a standard of reasonable behavior.
  19. Workers over 18 are entitled to one day (24 hours) off per week and to only work a maximum of 48 hours per week – although they can ‘opt-out of this limit. You should not work more than eight hours per day or 40 hours per week as a younger worker. It is not possible for them to opt-out of these limitations, even if they want to.
  20. The right to request flexible working is available to almost all employees with 26 weeks of continuous service. Both full-time and part-time employees have this right.


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